The Elusive AFL Quadruple Double

On the heels of the birth of the as yet unconquered 50/100 Club – statistical Holy Grail for small forwards, here at The Mongrel, we’re in the mood for somewhat obscure stats.

Basketball has long-celebrated the triple double. Names like Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and more recently, Russell Westbrook have made this category their own over the years. In 2017, Westbrook broke the all-time record for most Triple Doubles in a single season, grabbing rebounds, assists and points at will. However, when you add just one more statistical layer to the mix, those able to achieve the ‘next level’ feat drop off dramatically.

Only four players have been able to pull off a Quadruple Double in NBA history. Nate Thurmond, Alvin Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson are the only men ever to climb this mountain, and each has only done it once. Thurmond was the first to achieve this in 1974, and Robinson was the last man to pull it off, twenty years later. No one has completed it since 1994.

In the AFL, the quadruple double is almost as elusive as it is in the NBA. As it currently stands, only six players have been able to compile enough numbers across the range of four specific categories to qualify as Quadruple Double players. I don't think this kind of thing "Americanizes" our game more than the advanced statistics we use now already have. We now count goal assists and score involvements. This is more a fun kind of stat - the sort that captures a player's influence in a number of areas, and occurs so rarely that it deserves to be celebrated when it does.

But what are the categories? To be completely fair to those who came before, we’ve opted for only standard statistical categories. There’ll be no pressure acts, inside fifties, rebound fifties of 1%ers included to make it easier to achieve. What we’re looking at is the pure nuts and bolts of the game. Kicks, handballs, marks and tackles. To achieve a Quadruple Double, those are the designated categories a player must record double figures in.

To demonstrate just how difficult this achievement is to obtain, it is worth looking at timelines.

2008 saw the first Quadruple Double realised. One more was added in 2009, then another in 2011. Two were achieved in 2014, and the last one recorded to date was in 2015. With players now tackling more than ever, you’d expect that we will see the Quad achieved more often, but as it stands, this is an incredibly difficult statistical milestone to reach.

The first to pull it off was Scott Thompson for Adelaide.

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In Round 9, 2008, Thompson recorded the inaugural Quad against the West Coast Eagles in Subiaco. Sadly, his huge night was wasted, as the Crows fell to West Coast by 50 points.

Scott Thompson Round 9 2008

The second man to hit the statistical Everest was Joel Selwood.

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In Round 17, 2009 Selwood led his Cats against the Hawks in front of 64,000 at the MCG. As became a Selwood trademark, he elevated his game against his bitter foes, and walked away with his most complete game to date, helping to drag his team across the line in the dying moments.

Joel Selwood Round 17 2009

Next up was a player who was maligned throughout a lot of his career. Mostly by supporters of his own team.

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 Brent Stanton actually has several near-Quadruple doubles, but only hit the mark once. In Round 19, 2011 Stanton showed why he was rated so highly by those within Essendon. While Collingwood gave the Bombers a belting, Stanton was one of only a few stand up and walk off the ground with head held high.

Brent Stanton Round 19 2011

A three year drought of Quadruple Doubles was broken in Round 5, 2014 when Ben McGlynn resurrected the stat for the Sydney Swans.

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McGlynn was instrumental in the Swans victory over Fremantle at the SCG, his forward pressure and fierce intent on the ball and whomever had it in their possession saw him join elite company..

Ben McGlynn Round 5 2014

There was no drought following McGlynn’s effort, with Tom Rockliff adding a Quadruple Double to his CV in Round 20, 2014.

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In a game completely dominated by the Adelaide Crows, Rockliff’s statistical masterpiece is somewhat lost. It’s hard to find things to celebrate when you’re being creamed to the tune of 105 points, but Rockliff’s individual game deserves recognition. Rocky has also been close on several other occasions and remains one of the two active players to have a Quad under his belt.

Tom Rockliff Round 20 2014

Finally we come to the most recent man to achieve a Quadruple Double, Corey Enright.

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Enright was all class as he aided the Cats in their defeat of Collingwood at the MCG. It is worth noting that at this stage of his career, many were talking about retirement for Enright. This performance may have just convinced them that he had one year left in the tank. If it didn't, I'm not sure what else could have.

Corey Enright Round 6 2015

There are a few who flirted with registering a Quadruple Double in 2017, only to fall marginally short. Rockliff appearing twice gives a strong indication that he is not yet done with this statistical milestone. Below are just a few who looked to have it in touch in 2017.

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Rockliff aside, who looks most likely among current players to achieve this lofty goal? Tackling is the key aspect to collecting a Quadruple Double. The ten kicks and handballs are seemingly easily obtained by any quality mid in the AFL and with many kicks going backwards to set up play, marks are not too difficult to come by, especially for those who drop back behind the play as part of a designed defensive structure.

Scott Selwood led the league in tackles per game in 2017 with over 10 per game, but averages only 3.2 marks. If healthy, he is a constant threat to join his brother in this exclusive club.

St Kilda’s Jack Steele is not backwards in coming forwards, and ranked second in the league in tackles per game (7.9 in 2017), but like Scott Selwood, doesn’t take a lot of marks.

Rory Sloane, Brad Ebert, Jack Viney and Dayne Zorko are all legitimate contenders. They get plenty of the ball, but their marking is suspect. Sloane has achieved 10 or more marks in a game only four times in his career. Ebert has done it eight times, Zorko twice, and Viney has never got any more than nine.

The up and coming midfielders are the ones to watch. Clayton Oliver is one I can see joining the exclusive club. Thought he has never taken ten marks in a game, he has gone over ten tackles four times. Josh Kelly is another. His highest total for marks is nine, but he has accumulated ten tackles on five occasions.

As a smokey, I’d look at Christian Petracca. Entering his third season, he’s bigger, stronger and will start winning more of the ball. Already this pre-season, his marking ability has been on display, out-positioning Majak Daw in the JLT series with apparent ease to grab strong marks. With that improvement in strength, I expect his tackles to start sticking more too.

So who have you got as the next member of the Quadruple Double Club? Will Joel Selwood or Tom Rockliff become the first players to ever achieve the accolade twice? Will someone come from the clouds to make this stat their own? Or are you shaking your fist at the computer, Shelbyville-Style, thinking we've Americanized our game too much already, and should we leave this kind of stat alone?  

Let us know what you think on twitter @themongrelpunt or on our Facebook Page.

The Mongrel would like to thank the unsuspecting guys and girls on the BigFooty Statistical Page for doing a lot of the legwork in terms of this stat. They have kept tabs on this statistical rarity and those who have come close for several years. Many thanks to you all.